Three generations of one family — who thought they had found paradise on the banks of the Stillaguamish River — are among the dead and missing from the Washington mudslide.
Lou and JuDee Vandenburg, who had moved to Oso to be closer to their grandkids, have been formally identified as victims, along with their son Shane Ruthven, 43, and his 6-year-old son Hunter.
Ruthven's wife Katie, 34, and their 4-year-old son Wyatt are still listed as missing.
"That mountain may have taken away the most wonderful children, grand babies and in-laws a person could have, but it can't take from us our wonderful memories," Katie's mother, Karen Pszonka, wrote on Facebook.
"Those are in our hearts forever."
The family has pleaded for privacy as they make funeral arrangements but Pszonka's husband, Tom, a former Snohomish County sheriff's sergeant, shared some memories with local papers over the weekend.
Lou and Judy Vandenburg (on the far left and right) are the parents of Shane Ruthven. Shane, his wife Katie and their sons Hunter and Wyatt Ruthven are also missing.
He said Shane and Katie met online, and married in 2007, a year after they bought their little A-frame house. Katie, who worked as a paralegal after graduating from college, helped her husband run the family glass business while they raised their sons.
Hunter and Wyatt, who loved riding four-wheelers and relaxing by the river, had just gotten a new puppy, relatives told the Everett Herald.
They were doted on by their grandparents — Lou, 71, was a former Marine and retired state correction employee, and JuDee, 64, used to run a bar — who lived in a trailer on the property.
"The American dream, I’m telling you," Tom Pszonka told the Herald. "You got your love story. You got your kids, happy and free out in the woods."
— Tracy Connor
First published April 1 2014, 11:14 AM